Introduction to Rhetoric
EN 1007 – Fall 2009 – Carol Poster
Lecture 4 – Plato ‘Apology’, Aristophanes ‘Clouds’ – Oct 05
- Last week; education vs. persuasion.
o Education – q and a
o Persuasion – long hypnotic speeches.
- Georgian’s Helen: analytical.
o Go through stages of analyzing problem even if its rhetorical.
o Insists that he teaches rhetoric and not ethics.
- Figures who were important and influential but left not writing of their own but are
known to use through the ways their students have introduced them.
- Problems of witness and testimony.
o How do you trust evidence that you don’t see yourself?
- Xenephon – Socrates as conventional moralist.
o Theory – too dumb to make things up.
o Theory – too unimaginative to invent.
o Theory – too unimaginative to understand.
If he was dense how could he have understood a complex thinker
Hard to tell which theory is right.
o Theory – Faux naïve – he was more clever than they thought to make
sure that the audience liked what he wrote he appeared to seem less
- Plato – associated carefully with Socrates before his death.
o Socrates died when Plato was 27- Socrates was 70.
o Plato could have only known Socrates in the near end of his life.
o Did Plato write what Socrates actually said or what he should have said?
o In the period Plato was writing, history was a newly developed genre.
o Report people in such a way that it would teach them how to behave and
how not to behave.
o Did Plato us Socrates as a character to make his own points?
- What was not actually said but what was appropriate to the occasion – people
- History – known historical facts and human nature – how people behave under
Aristophanes, 446 – ca. 386 BC
- Comedian, to entertain, to write funny plays.
- There has to be truth in a ‘funny’ – recognizable – details may be wrong but the
overall picture has to be recognizable or it just won’t work.
- Aristophanes should have known Socrates more than Plato.
- Aristophanes was 20 years older than Plato. - May reflect before Plato was born or met him.
- Comedy as history – what does poetic license cover?
- Greek gods – required worship (belief in vs. belief that) and ritual.
- Greek drama – religious origins. Tragedy, satyr plays, comedy.
- Being as a festival honoring Gods.
- Two festivals:
o Three tragedies and a theater play.
o Performances of individual comedies.
Chorus’ dances and sing in the circular middle of the theater.
- Old comedy – subject matter obscene, scatological, political.
o Political and social issues.
o Jokes are obscene.
o Feculent, excrement, old men chasing young boys; jokes.
- Performance of comedy – chorus + 3 actors, song and dance, costumes,
stage/scenery (ithyphallic), parabasis.
o Greek – being as a festival honoring gods.
o Two festivals:
Three tragedies and a theater play.
Performances of individual comedies.
• Chorus’ dances and sing in the circular middle of the theater.
- Episodes – characters talk to each other.
- Parabasis – actors address audience directly.
- Comedy was done as a chorus with 12 people.
- All wore masks.
- 3 actors who played individual characters would switch masks.
- No more than 3 actors on stage.
- Leather felt strapped on the front of male actor.
o Like trailer park boys but not as clean.
- Strepsiades, pheidippides and Socrates as comic types (old miser, young man,
- Pheidippides – what to do with him?
o What does the son do?
Basic literary education.
Not to marry until father died and they inherited something to live
- Men married in their 30s to women of 12-13 (reproduction peak).
- Not married – doesn’t have a job; no university.
o If he can spend his father’s money, he buys horses and expensive clothes
o Dad had enough of it.
- Socrates – as a solution but causing problems.
o Strepsiades – worried about debt.
Blames it on his kid. Adds up accounts and tries to figure out what to do.
Honest farmer who married a woman with extravagant taste.
Worries about how to cheat his collectors so he doesn’t have to pay
instead of how to gain money back.
Realizes he’s learned about Socrates (sophist).
Socrates has a school at where he can teach people to speak
cleverly and he wants to sneak his boy in to teach him how to go to
court and cheat his collectors out of their money.
Pheidippides – Doesn’t want to go to school because people don’t
have good taste/clothes.
Strepsiades goes to school himself.
How far a flee can jump – A student was trying to figure it out.
Needs to learn the Science of rhetoric – how to make the worst
case appear the better. How to win law suits, how to out argue
Socrates insists Strepsiades studies grammar.
• Strepsiades is unenthusiastic because he doesn’t know what
it has to do with cheating his predators.
• Unfamiliar in modern classroom – Socrates introduces
Strepsiades to an entire consolation of new learning.
• Reading includes astronomy, biology and religion.
• Socrates says that the Gods don’t exist and he enters a new
God, the clouds.
o Debunking of old education.
o Would have learned Gymnastics, how to read Homer,
Numeracy and Music.
o Introduces new subjects.
o Overthrowing the traditional beliefs.
Not going to make everyone happy.
• One of the things they did was take away old certainties and
put nothing in their place.
o What happens when you say that the old gods are
nonsense? ‘Zeus will not punish you if you are rude to
• Religion and morality are all part of ‘tradition and shown as
o What restraint is there on behaviour?
• Teaching the wonderful thing about grammar and gender.
o Nouns is greek have gender.
o Socrates is trying to make sense of the gender.
o St makes fun of addressing proper letters.
• St. is a hopeless student.
o Socrates convinces him to make him bring his son in.
o His son makes a good student learning with Socr